A New Direction
Economic activity in Anchorage is suffering a significant downturn. All sectors are experiencing tremendous financial pressures. We have seen store and restaurant closures, not all driven by the overreach restrictions implemented in response to Coronavirus by the current administration. Downtown is losing major retailers which serve as anchors for our small businesses. Vagrancy and crime are causing shoppers to avoid downtown.
Anchorage has lost more than 17,000 jobs since 2015. We need an economic revitalization effort stimulated by private sector growth, not government expansion. We need innovation in business development that incentivizes new investment and business openings in our city. One of my first actions as your mayor will be to establish the Anchorage Economic Advisory Taskforce to present recommendations within 120 days of establishment for our economic recovery. We will develop a comprehensive tax incentive program to attract new businesses. We will launch a supply chain and a new business recruitment effort in conjunction with the private sector to capitalize on shifts in the Alaskan economy. We will launch a remote work initiative to connect prospective job seekers with jobs. We will divest unused city lands and properties that are not planned for future government activities to create a broader private sector tax base. As mayor, I will streamline the building process by consolidating economic and community development, planning, project management and engineering, and inspections into a single agency to facilitate new construction and improved community development. This effort will be laser focused to providing centralized efforts to support businesses navigating the economic development process. We will maximize digital processes to reduce both the time and cost of project developments. We will eliminate overly regulating Title 21 standards that hinder cost-effective building. With the major market’s shifts in markets and recent Coronavirus impact, we must aggressively restimulate our economy. Economic growth is essential to generate a vibrant community which we can achieve together.
We can no longer tolerate a permissive attitude in our leaders toward lawlessness. Living on our streets is illegal, and it must be treated as such. As your mayor, I will not tolerate lawlessness by anyone. Historically, Anchorage crime is 142% greater than the national average and 45% higher than the Alaska average. We have a higher violent crime and property crime rate than both the national and Alaskan average. Every type of crime has increased in Anchorage each year since 2014. Our crime rate is higher than 93% of all American cities. We have an “F” rating when it comes to crime control. While the number of police officers has increased, the focus on reducing violent and property crimes has not been a priority of the current administration. Don’t be fooled by those that say crime has decreased in 2020. This decrease is a direct correlation with the closures and quarantine steps taken to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. It has not been because of leadership from City Hall to reduce crime. Anchorage has one of the finest police departments in the nation with the least amount of corruption and fewest number of “bad-actor” officers. Our jump in crime is directly related to a lack of mayoral leadership. When elected I will:
*Focus on community policing
*Increase the number of officers within the Anchorage Police Department
*NOT defund the police to fund social programs
*Make illegal drug use and possession arrests a priority
*Enforce the anti-panhandling law
*Intensify police presence in areas most impacted by increased crime
*Expand public outreach and communications on police priorities and results
Like you, I expect Anchorage to be a safe city for everyone, and that starts with mayoral leadership that sets a priority on decreasing every crime category in Anchorage. I am the mayor who will get this done!
TAX AND SPEND
As our economy is being economically devastated and our population decreases, our local elected officials continue to tax and spend. This must stop! We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity. Tax money is not the government’s money. It is your money, and our government has been entrusted to spend it wisely. This has not been accomplished by our current mayor and assembly majority. To sustain a balanced budget without increased taxation will require reducing costs and streamlining services. This is my goal. Personnel costs account for the single largest component in municipal government. The average annual salary and benefits package for full-time municipal employees in over $125,000, out-pacing the private sector and creating increased pressure for your tax dollars. The mayor’s office alone has a Chief of Staff, Municipal Manger, a Senior Policy Advisor, three Special Assistants, a Housing and Homeless Services Coordinator, and now an Office of Equality and Justice. To reduce expenditures, I will start by consolidating administrative functions and reducing the number of senior managers. The taxes you pay should be spent on public services for you, not for high paid government bureaucrats. I will prioritize the budget based on the essential government services; such as police, fire protection, street maintenance and snow plowing, and emergency management. Educational per student costs in Anchorage are the second highest in the nation. Good public education is indispensable for a prosperous community. I will work with the Anchorage School District to increase graduation results without placing additional demand on taxpayer funding.
As mayor, I will:
*NOT implement a sales tax
*NOT seek alternative taxes to circumvent the voter approved municipal tax cap
*NOT inflate property assessments and raise the mill levy to gain additional revenues on the backs of property owners
*NOT eliminate the senior property tax exemptions
*make it easier for businesses, both large and small, to successfully operate in Anchorage They must feel free from onerous taxes and regulations. The business of Anchorage is business. A thriving economy creates jobs, brings in more revenues, and improves the quality of life for everyone. I will focus government spending for the essentials and keep a lid on taxes.
Anchorage is being devastated by homelessness. People are living on the streets and in our parks at record numbers. As mayor, I will aggressively and compassionately work to reduce the homelessness problem in our city. Scattering the problem into neighborhoods across our city is not right. Buying hotels to warehouse those who are homeless and are suffering from substance addiction is not the answer. The actions of the current administration have caused an explosion in the numbers of homeless in Anchorage. I will reverse these mistakes and not enable homelessness in Anchorage. I will form a team to work with the Brother Francis Shelter, Anchorage Gospel Rescue Center, Salvation Army Clithroe Center, and others to increase services and capacity. I will return the Sullivan Arena to its intended purpose as a sports and events venue, not a homeless shelter, and will never use hockey arenas for homeless shelters. We have plenty of capacity available in our community to manage this problem without commandeering our public facilities. I will reach out to the faith-based community to partner in supporting those who find themselves homeless caused by our economic downturn. We must put more resources into drug and alcohol treatment for the homeless. Those who suffer from mental illness must be provided counseling and treatment. My administration will work with both government and private organizations to provide these necessary services. Those who choose to live a homeless lifestyle will not be allowed to ruin our businesses and neighborhoods. They will be removed from our parks, public streets, and our business and residential areas.